NPR: Lead Wars

Flint, Mich., isn’t the only American city with a lead problem. Though the health crisis in Flint has highlighted the use of lead in water pipes, author David Rosner tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that lead, which is a neurotoxin, can be found throughout the U.S. on walls, in soil and in the air.

”The problem with lead is that it’s now really everywhere, and we’ve created a terribly toxic environment in all sorts of ways,” he says.

Lead is particularly dangerous to young children. In their book, Lead Wars, Rosner and co-author Gerald Markowitz describe the ways in which even small exposures can interfere with a child’s brain development and cause lasting learning challenges.

”It causes IQ loss. It causes behavioral problems. It causes attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia,” Markowitz says.

Rosner adds that even a small amount of lead can have a lasting effect on a child’s health. “As early as the 1910s and 1920s, [doctors] were documenting children who had absorbed lead on their fingers as dust and had put their hands in their mouth and actually began going into convulsions,” he says. “It’s not like you need a lot of it.”

Please catch the whole interview of Rosner and Markowitz, and read their book!